How do I unpublish a WordPress site?

This tutorial explains how to unpublish a WordPress site without removing it.

After reading this tutorial, you will know how to unpublish your WordPress site, a specific post or page, or many posts/pages in bulk. The methods explained in this tutorial include external plugins and dashboard native options. There are many plugins in the market to unpublish your site; I show how to use the Maintenance plugin in this article.

Note: This article includes screenshots for each step, making it easy for all WordPress level users to follow them.

Unpublishing an entire WordPress site using a plugin:

This section provides instructions to unpublish your entire WordPress site by using a plugin named Maintenance.

To begin, login to your WordPress dashboard and on the left menu, move your mouse cursor over the Plugins option, then press the Add New option as shown in the screenshot below (Plugins>Add New).

On the plugins installation page, type “maintenance” in the keyword search field and when the Maintenance plugin shows up, press the Install Now button as shown in the following image.

Once the plugin is installed, press the Activate button to enable it.

After installing the plugin, scroll down on the dashboard left menu, find the Maintenance plugin, and press it to access all available options.

Next to the Maintenance title, you will see a toggle button; if red, the maintenance mode is off, and your site is accessible; if green, the maintenance mode is on, and your site is unpublished. Press it to enable or disable the maintenance mode. On the same line, you have two buttons (Right upper corner) to see a preview every time you make a change.

Below you have options to set a page title; by default, it has a maintenance message, but you can edit it.

Then you can edit the headline and description, the content your visitors will see when the maintenance mode is enabled. Scroll down for additional options.

Below you can define a footer text for your unpublished site. You can also enable image compression to increase performance and optionally allow this plugin to be promoted in your footer.

Keep scrolling down, and you upload a logo and define its dimensions. You also can upload a retina logo.

Below you can upload a background image and a portrait background image for certain devices.

You also can upload a page loader image, define background color and font color and family and subsets.

Finally, you define a 503 response code for your visitors to see the error “Service temporarily unavailable”. As warned, if you enable this option, you won’t associate this plugin with your Google Analytics account.

Below you can associate the plugin with your Google Analytics account, apply background Blur and define its intensity. You also can add password protection.

After configuring this plugin, remember to press the Save Changes button.

That’s how you can unpublish a WordPress site in a few steps.

Prevent your WordPress site from being indexed by search engines:

If you plan to unpublish your WordPress site, you probably want to discourage search engines from indexing it.

To do it on the dashboard left menu to, move your mouse pointer over the Settings option and press the Reading option (Settings>Reading).

On the Reading screen, scroll down and select the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option. Then press the Save Changes button as shown below.

Now search engines will not index your site.

Unpublishing a single post in WordPress:

To unpublish a single WordPress post on the left menu in your dashboard, move your mouse pointer over Posts and then press the All Posts option as shown below (Posts>All Posts).

Note: For instructions to unpublish a page instead of a post press here.

In the posts, the list moves the mouse cursor over the post you want to unpublish or hide. The Edit option will show up; press it.

The next screen is your posts edition screen with a right menu containing the Status & Visibility option; press it.

After pressing it, you will see Visibility Public; press the Public link to see available options to hide your post. Note you also have the option Move to trash, don’t use it if you want to keep your page hidden instead of removing it.

Now you can hide your post by selecting the Private option. Optionally you can keep it published for certain users with password protection.

After selecting Private, the status of the post may change automatically. If it doesn’t, just press the Update button shown in the second screenshot below this one.

A confirmation dialog box will allow you to apply changes and press OK to hide your post.

If you pressed Cancel, you still can press the Update button to apply changes.

That’s how to hide a WordPress post.

Hide a single page in WordPress:

The process explained in this section is 95% similar to the explained above. The difference is in the first step.

To unpublish a WordPress page, move your mouse pointer over Pages in the dashboard menu, then press the All Pages option (Pages>All Pages).

When the pages list shows up, move the mouse cursor over the page you want to hide and press the Edit option as shown in the following screenshot.

To unpublish, find the Status and visibility option on the right menu and press it.

Then press the Public link to show all options to hide your page.

Press the Private option to hide your page to visitors, except for admins and editors. Optionally you can password protect the page for certain users.

After selecting the Private option, a pop up will request confirmation to apply changes; press the OK option.

Also, always can press the Update button to apply changes.

Now your WordPress page is hidden.

How to unpublish WordPress pages and posts in bulk:

Like with two previous examples, unpublishing WordPress posts and pages in bulk have the same procedure except for the first step.

If you want to unpublish a post, on the dashboard in the left menu, move your mouse cursor over Posts, then press the All Posts option. If, instead of posts, you want to hide pages, see the second screenshot below.

If you want to hide pages in bulk instead of a post, on the left menu, move the mouse pointer over Pages, then press the All Pages option.

Once in the pages/posts list screen, select the pages or posts you want to unpublish, as shown in the black arrows. Then in the Bulk actions drop-down menu, select the Edit option (Blue arrow) and press the Apply button (Red arrow).

Now press the Status dropdown menu, select the Private option, and press the Update button below.

Now all pages you selected are unpublished.


As you can see in this tutorial, unpublishing a WordPress site, pages or posts is pretty easy. All WordPress level users can do it by following instructions as explained above. You can choose to hide your content to all visitors or to password protect it for certain users. The market offers a lot of alternatives to the plugin used in the first section of this tutorial (Maintenance); feel free to try any alternative you want. Hiding your site content may be a better alternative to removing it if you want to restore it later.

Thank you for reading this WordPress article; keep following us for more WordPress professional tips and instructions.

About the author

David Adams

David Adams is a System Admin and writer that is focused on open source technologies, security software, and computer systems.